AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa has come down hard on the country’s defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula after she violated government rules and gave a lift, on a state aircraft, to an ANC delegation during a trip to Zimbabwe.
Ramaphosa has formally reprimanded Mapisa-Nqakula and docked her salary for three months. He said her salary would be donated to the Solidarity Fund, a special kitty established to help the South African economy to recover from the devastation of COVID-19.
Ramaphosa also ordered Mapisa-Nqakula to make sure that the ANC reimburses the state for the costs of the flight to Harare and to report to him once that has been done.
In a statement, the South African presidency said President Ramaphosa’s decision followed his consideration of the minister’s initial report and a supplementary report that he had directed the Minister to provide on the circumstances that led to the ANC delegation travelling on a South African Air Force plane to Harare, Zimbabwe on September 8, 2020.
The presidency said while Mapisa-Nqakula was on an official trip for which the President had given permission and for which she was entitled to use a SAAF aircraft, Ramaphosa found that it was an error of judgment to use the plane to convey a political party delegation.
The President said Mapisa-Nqakula’s error of judgment was not in keeping with the responsibilities of a minister of cabinet. Ramaphosa found that the Minister:
- Did not “act in the best interest of good governance” as required by the Executive Members Code
- Failed to adhere to legal prescripts warranting care in use of state resources
- Acted “in a way that is inconsistent with [her] position” as required by the Code.
“In his letter of reprimand to the Minister, President Ramaphosa said he appreciated that the ANC had committed to reimburse state resources spent in excess of those the Minister would have incurred for her approved travel to meet her Zimbabwean counterpart. However, the sanction imposed on the Minister demonstrated the seriousness with which the President viewed the Minister’s error of judgment, given her high position in government,” the Presidency said, in a statement.
The ANC has offered to pay back the costs of the delegation, which was led by secretary-general Ace Magashule.